How to Deal with the Financial Impact of Delaying Your “I do”

Planning your dream wedding can be stressful under normal circumstances. In the blur of picking floral arrangements and finding the perfect music, many couples don’t account for unforeseen events that can impact their plans. Those who planned to get married in 2020 have to navigate the added stress of the coronavirus. As large gatherings contribute to the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that gatherings of more than 10 people should be cancelled.

For those who don’t want to host a virtual wedding or exclude guests, postponing the wedding is a likely outcome. Unfortunately, rescheduling a wedding means that months of planning are uprooted, family members must cancel travel plans and money is lost.

Postponing a wedding is a big deal. Use this article as a starting point to take charge of your finances and make the best of an unexpected situation.

Financial Implications of Postponing

In 2019, the average wedding cost $33,900, with the ceremony and reception costing, on average, $28,000 and the ring averaging $5,900. These expenses are one of the most significant costs incurred in one’s lifetime outside of getting a mortgage.

Unfortunately, postponing a wedding will most likely add to what you originally paid. Depending on how close you were to your original date, you might lose money on things like retainers, non-refundable goods and services. If you didn’t budget for unexpected roadblocks along the way, you may find yourself in a bit of a bind.

Typical Ways to Finance a Wedding

Parental Funding

According to a Weddingwire survey, 52% of parents end up paying the majority of their children’s wedding expenses.

Credit Cards

Instead of charging wedding expenses to a high-interest credit card, take advantage of 0% APR offers and make a plan to pay off your balance. 

Crowdfunding

A growing trend, crowdfunding allows guests to contribute money to your wedding. Many people are opting out of gifts or honeymoon contributions for this unconventional method. 

Savings

Many people lean on their savings to pay for their wedding. Keeping your wedding fund in a high-yielding savings account gives you the opportunity to earn interest. 

A lot of planning and budgeting goes into organizing a wedding. But the budget you set initially may not be able to accommodate unexpected costs due to unforeseeable events like COVID-19. Scrambling to find funding can seem like an impassable barrier. A personal loan can help cover additional costs.

Getting a personal loan

If you don’t have any other financing options, a personal loan can help you pay for the added costs. However, a personal loan is not something to take on lightly. While there is a wide range of wedding and personal loan options, you should only take one on if you can pay it off in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, you could end up in debt for years to come. There are both advantages and disadvantages to a personal loan for a wedding.

Pros

  • Fixed monthly payments
  • Lower interest rate than many credit cards
  • Quick access to money
  • Easy, online applications
  • Build credit over time

Cons

  • Origination and other associated fees
  • Potentially high interest rates (if you have bad credit)
  • Added monthly fee to your finances
  • Interest will compile on your balance

The stronger your credit score, the lower your interest rate on your loan will be. Before you decide to choose a personal loan for your wedding, make sure it is the best option for your situation. Loans have fixed monthly payments and allow you to build credit over time, but the fees and interest rates can add to your balance and make it hard to pay off.

If you’ve determined that a personal loan is the best choice for you right now, use this personal loan calculator as a starting point.

How much do I need to finance my wedding?

If you don’t have enough saved to cover unexpected wedding costs, how much should you borrow?

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What to Do If You Have to Postpone

If your wedding plans are on hold because of the coronavirus or an unexpected circumstance, don’t lose hope. We’ve put together a list of tips you can use to manage unanticipated costs and mitigate the stress you feel.

1. Give yourself time and space to process

Choosing to postpone your wedding isn’t an easy decision to make. Months of planning and budgeting come unraveled, and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. A time that was supposed to be a celebration can morph into something very stressful. It’s okay to give yourself some time to be sad about it. Lean on your loved ones and allow people to help.

2. Talk with your vendors

Start the conversation with your vendors as soon as possible. You’ll need to figure out who will be able to accommodate a new date and the costs. Remember, wedding vendors deal with unexpected changes more than you do, so they may be able to give you advice and help you through the process. Review the contracts you signed and contact your vendors one by one to ask about their postponement procedures and any available dates they have for the future.

You may find that not all of your vendors will be able to work with a new date, which most likely will result in a lost deposit. All you can do is attempt to negotiate and be flexible. Jocelyn Voo, an NYC wedding photographer and owner of Everly Studios, said, “Most vendors have a Force Majeure clause that includes government emergencies and acts of God. They may be willing to waive any reschedule fees due to the unprecedented nature of COVID-19. For all my couples, I’ve allowed one reschedule to a new date within one year of their original reservation. Trust that many vendors will be in favor of postponing your event rather than outright canceling it.”

3. Notify guests and update your website

Once you speak with your vendors and pick a new date, make sure every single guest knows the plan. Email blasts and new save-the-dates are some of the most popular ways to notify your guests. If you’ve maintained a wedding website as a way to relay information, you should update the date and any necessary information there too.

4. Help your guests make changes

Beyond just telling your guests that your wedding is postponed, think about ways in which you can help them with the plans they’ve made. Some of your guests have most likely made travel arrangements that will need to be either canceled or rescheduled. If you’ve reserved rooms at a hotel, contact the hotel and see what accommodations they are willing to make for guests who have booked with them.

5. Consider wedding insurance

Every insurance policy and situation is different. If you had insurance prior to the coronavirus, you should check with your insurance provider to see if you have any level of coverage. Given the changing circumstances surrounding the coronavirus, many insurance companies may not be able to provide coverage.

While you may not be able to obtain coverage during the coronavirus, you should consider getting wedding insurance for your new date. Also known as special event insurance, it gives you both postponement or cancellation and liability coverage. Wedding insurance helps cover the money you would lose if you had to postpone or cancel.

6. Revisit your budget

Once all the dust has settled, and you have a grip on which vendors you’ll be able to work with for your new date, it’s time to revisit your budget. More than likely, you lost money along the way through deposits and additional fees. Take these fees into account and work them into your new budget. Even though postponing a wedding results in added fees, that doesn’t mean you have to let it blow away your finances.

Look for ways you can cut out unnecessary expenses or cut costs. If it turns out that a considerable number of guests aren’t able to make the new date, you could downsize supplies and catering. You can also save by using wholesale sellers for your decorations and then going down the D.I.Y route.

7. Act quickly

How long you decide to postpone your wedding is up to you. But once you make the decision to reschedule, you have to act quickly. Letting time go can result in even more money lost. As the pandemic has left many couples in the same situation, the need to act quickly and secure vendors and dates is all the more important. You don’t want to lose out on your backup plan because someone got there first. Even though vendors are used to dealing with changing wedding dates, they do put a lot of work into your special day. Don’t damage the relationship with them by not telling them right away.

Tips From the Experts

It’s easy to feel overrun with information on what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to postponing a wedding. To make sure you get the best information, we spoke to vendors and wedding planners about their experience and what advice they have for couples who are managing wedding finances during the pandemic.

Read your contract

Aimee Palifroni, owner of Prisma Events

Read through your contracts carefully before making the first call. Couples should be well aware of what they have agreed to with each of their vendors and be sure to understand their policies around cancellation and rescheduling.

We’ve seen a great deal of flexibility and willingness from vendors to work with couples on a case-by-case basis to reschedule and move payments to new dates. However, don’t forget that everyone is in the same boat right now. Your vendors are small business owners who are scared of losing everything, and they are under the same amount of stress, given the current circumstances. Everyone’s ability to work together through this will make things much easier.

Reschedule, don’t cancel

Tracy French, destination wedding planner coach

As a destination wedding specialist, I am strongly advising couples to reschedule vs. canceling their weddings. From what I am seeing, the couples that have simply canceled their weddings instead of rescheduling them, they leave the majority of their friends and family miffed, shocked, surprised, and mad. It is impossible to meet everyone’s ideal rescheduled date, but your friends and family planned to travel with you to this destination and were all looking forward to it. Most guests are looking forward to this [pandemic] passing and having a future travel date to be excited about.

Take on DIY projects

Marie Kubin, J.D., founder & CEO of Rent My Wedding

The best trick is to see if you can get the same things you planned on, but pay less. How? Opt for do-it-yourself rentals instead of full-service professionals. There are so many aspects of a wedding that couples don’t realize that they can do on their own. For example, wedding lighting, backdrops, photo booths, and arches/canopies are traditionally done by specialty vendors. However, you can actually rent all these items and set them up yourself. By setting up the decor yourself, you will save thousands of dollars. The best part is that there is no experience required!

Set your nonnegotiables

Lauren Alexander Weddings, a UK based wedding planner and events designer

Be kind, be understanding, be open. Communication is key, and so is managing both your and your supplier’s expectations. Consider writing a list of things you actually don’t mind losing out on and some things that are a permanent no.

Ivy Summer, certified wedding planner 

Couples should discuss among themselves which wedding vendors they’re willing to spend more on. Couples should also establish what their non-negotiables are so they can understand what types of wedding aspects they’re not willing to budge about versus where they’re willing to be flexible. This exercise helps the couple establish a set of guidelines that help them make decisions in their planning process.

The Lasting Impact on the Wedding Industry

The coronavirus has an impact on more than just the couples who have had to postpone their wedding. Joshua Gabrielson, owner of Wedding Photography and Films, said, “From current estimations based on our data, it looks like 15-20% of wedding vendors could stop existing all together. Fortunately, we have some savings for bad wedding seasons which has softened the blow to our business, but it’s still 80% down from this time last year.”

Some wedding vendors and event planners are at risk of going out of business or going into debt just to make it through. In an attempt to mitigate the loss, vendors have to make hard decisions about their clients, even if it damages their reputation. Summer suggested, “One of the biggest implications of the pandemic on the wedding industry is that there’s a betrayal of trust in some vendors. Namely the venues that have pulled the rug from underneath couples who paid in advance and have no way of getting a refund due to the impact of the pandemic on wedding businesses.”

Postponing a wedding is no one’s dream, but it’s a possibility that shouldn’t be ignored. Adding an extra cushion with a personal loan into your wedding budget can save you a lot of heartaches in the long run. Rescheduling a wedding date has a lot of moving parts, but these tips will help you replan your special day.